Rent my leather elbow patches cheap!

The writer's lifestyle is on the block. Plus: The United Unabombers of Benetton.

Published July 23, 2001 7:09PM (EDT)

I met a writer who rented out his apartment as a location for a film about a writer. The film's producers paid him several thousand dollars, cleared the place of its contents and proceeded to create a writer's apartment from scratch.

Few professions are as heavily art-directed as that of the author. As imaginary ways of life go, the literary life is easily one of the best. Disgruntled high school girls still dream of growing up to be Dorothy Parker, despite what being Dorothy Parker entailed. Boys cast themselves in their minds as wayfaring rebels, kicking the ass of conformity from town to nonexistent pre-MTV town. Hats and cigarettes and typewriters and dusty jeans get heavy play in the fantasies of throwback dreamers. Other, more modern children imagine literary success as an endless parade of parties, models and expensive shoes. Never mind that few writers can afford the writer's life; it's still a magazine lifestyle worth living.

So it was just a matter of time before writers started exploring the lifestyle -- no relation to the life -- in books. In "Lit Life," a new novel by Kurt Wenzel, a bad-boy literary prodigy finds that his hectic celebrity life and drinking schedule cut into his workday in a big way; and a lonely, 65-year-old first-timer finds his manuscript can find no purchase. In John Colapinto's "About the Author," a frustrated writer discovers that his just-deceased roommate has written a soon to be bestselling book, which, naturally, he passes off as his own. Soon, the surviving member of the apartment is living his expired friend's hard-won celebrity life. He still can't write, but the money's good.

Sure, they're satires now, but someday they'll make the movie versions and real writer's apartments will not be used. And if they are, we already know what will happen. (Note to directors: I have a writer's apartment and could use some discretionary income.)

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According to legend, the island of Atlantis was rich in a solid but malleable precious metal called Orichalcum, now as unknown and subject to Disneyfication as the lost continent itself.

The mythic ore was recently revived, however, by Italian design firm Corpo Nove and used to create, yes, a shirt. The garment, according to Fashion Wire Daily, is fashioned from a so-called memory metal called Oricalco, which until now had only been used in human heart surgery.

The major selling point of these lightweight, 50 percent titanium-alloy tops? They recover any preprogrammed shape upon heating. That's right, preprogammed. Say goodbye to balled-up T-shirts and limp blouses -- the shirts' "thermal shape memory" guarantees that long sleeves will automatically shorten when someone cranks up the thermostat in the office, saving you the effort of rolling them up. They can also be easily unwrinkled with a simple blast from the hair dryer.

The shirts come in a wide array of colors ranging from bronze to silver, and one can be yours beginning in March 2002 for only $4,000.

Talk about practical.

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The United Unabombers of Benetton?

The company known for explosive ads says it was recently targeted by anti-globalization protestors on the eve of the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.

The mail department at the headquarters of the Italian sweater empire received an envelope that burst into flames when it was opened, according to Fashion Wire Daily.

A Benetton spokesperson told the news service, "We imagine that it was related to the G-8. There was no explosion, nor damage to people or things," he said. "It seemed to be symbolic."

Nobody loves symbolic as much as Benetton. Expect flammable ads in the fall.

By Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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